April 18 - Summary of business headlines: Stocks fall day after biggest rally of the year; Higher card spending boosts American Express results; Yum raises full-year forecasts; eBay beats, but outlook lackluster; Volkswagen to build Audi in Mexico. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Wall Street spent most of Wednesday's session digesting the big gains made the day before and so there was little appetite to do more buying. Investors may also have been on hold for a round of after-hour quarterly scorecards: American Express says card spending was up in the first quarter, which helped profits at the credit card company rise more than expected. Yum Brands is raising its full-year forecasts after first-quarter earnings were better than anticipated. Sales slightly exceeded forecasts led by an increase at stores operating in China for at least a year. Profits and sales at eBay came in ahead of expectations but its full-year targets were at the low end of analysts' forecasts. So far, earnings season is surprising to the upside. And John Eade of Argus Research is waiting to hear from other sectors to confirm the trend. SOUNDBITE: JOHN EADE, PRESIDENT, ARGUS RESEARCH (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We still have to hear from industrial companies and I think earnings growth is probably going to be in-line with the market - that 6 to 7 percent. These global manufacturing companies are facing headwinds with a stronger dollar versus a year ago." That group is also more exposed to Europe's malaise. Apart from earnings: Germany's Volkswagen will start building premium Audi models in Mexico starting in the year 2016. The move is seen as a step in Volkswagen's plans to build a stronger brand in North America. Taking a look at the final numbers: the day on Wall Street was downbeat with losses kept to a minimum. But Europe's equity markets posted bigger losses as debt crisis jitters resurfaced. Conway Gittens, Reuters